Energy's cyber office gets a boost

Royalty-free stock photo ID: 641963182 By 4kclips Department of Energy in Washington - WASHINGTON DC / COLUMBIA - APRIL 7, 2017 

The federal government's designated energy sector cybersecurity agency could see more than $50 million more to help industry fight cybersecurity threats to the electric grid and other critical energy infrastructure.

The White House bumped up the Department of Energy's Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response by $61 million in the 2020 budget proposal released March 11.

On a conference call with reporters, agency officials said CESER would get $157 million for grid cybersecurity to support early-stage research and development to improve cybersecurity and resilience that will support private infrastructure providers to "harden and evolve" their systems against manmade and natural events.

Overall, however, the White House requested $31.7 billion for DOE, an 11 percent decrease from the 2019 enacted level.

"Secretary Perry recognized early on that cybersecurity was important," a top DOE official said. "We worked to establish the office last year," said the official, adding that cybersecurity threats are "just increasing."

Congress has been "positive" in supporting CESER over the last year, and "as the sector-specific agency" for cybersecurity for energy infrastructure, "the request is appropriate," said the official.

DOE officials on the call declined comment when asked about specific threats that might be addressed with the increased budget.

The CESER request also included $30 million for emergency response operations to two physical threats that loom over the electrical grid -- electromagnetic pulse and geomagnetic disturbances or "space weather" events.

The funding also includes support for the Environment for Analysis of Geo-Located Energy Information (EAGLE-I) system. EAGLE-I is a visualization and analysis system that can predict possible energy system outages as well as help first responders quickly find outages when they occur. EAGLE-I was developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the system runs on that lab's infrastructure platform.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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